Charities not making the most of data

More than half (57%) of UK not-for-profits are struggling to unlock the marketing and fundraising potential in the data they hold, according to a new Blackbaud report launched today.

The research was conducted in conjunction with research consultancy nfpSynergy and surveyed 338 not-for-profit professionals to reveal that just 30% of respondents felt they were doing a good job in utilising their data for marketing and fundraising.

However, 70% of respondents said there was untapped potential in the data their organisations hold.

The inability to integrate digital data into CRM systems emerged as a major issue, with less than half (38%) of respondents able to integrate online data into their CRM systems and just 15% able to integrate their social media data. Only a third of respondents were able to integrate data from third party online giving platforms.

“The sheer volume of data generated in modern fundraising can be bewildering for not-for-profits and the research shows how many are struggling to make sense of the data they hold on donors and supporters,” said Azadi Sheridan, Blackbaud Europe’s product manager, CRM.

“Data can be invaluable for fundraising and marketing, but not-for-profits must be able to analyse that data to get the maximum value from it. Not utilising social media data is a major missed opportunity to better understand supporters.” 

Participants in the Data Driven Fundraising report were very aware of the repercussions of bad data in their CRM systems and they were honest about the challenges they faced with regard to data.

41% of respondents agreed that poor data makes it hard for their organisation to engage with supporters, whilst more than half (56%) felt that they lacked the resources to make best use of that data.

More than a third (35%) said that they didn’t have enough knowledge about their CRM systems to manage them effectively, and 24% said that they struggled to manage the sheer volume of data generated.

>See also: The rising stars of big data

The most common challenge faced regarding data and data integration was having to manually key in data from different systems, with 57% of respondents citing this as a challenge. This was an issue for not-for-profits of all sizes.

The second most common challenge faced was conflicting objectives on data across the organisation, with around half of respondents citing this as a challenge. This figure rises to 61% when looking only at larger not-for-profits.

One quarter of all respondents said that data silos increase the difficulty in reaching or drawing conclusions from their data.

“A lack of resources to manage CRM and data was a common issue amongst not-for-profits, but what was more worrying was their CRM system being unable to do what they needed to,” said Sheridan. “Whether that is a lack of support from the vendor or whether their system couldn’t cope with the volume of data, it is something that should be addressed as a priority.”

Overall, the not-for-profits surveyed for the report generally recognised the importance of technology and their ability to deploy it effectively and efficiently. 62% of respondents felt that it was key to the future growth of their organisations and 36% said that their use of technology had actually increased the amount of funds raised.

Technology can be an enormous asset to not-for-profits, especially in the areas of fundraising and marketing, yet this is not universally recognised. 29% of respondents felt that technology was not considered a priority in achieving their organisations’ missions, whilst 34% said that a lack of technology resources impacts their organisations’ ability to achieve their overall missions.

“It is clear that technology was seen as hugely important to many not-for-profits, but resources were a major issue,” said Jo Graham, nfpSynergy’s research director. “Data is key to modern fundraising and the findings in the Data Driven Fundraising report suggest that not-for-profits are aware of this but need help unlocking the true potential of that data.”

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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